Friday, 21 June 2013

Bookshops and their reluctance to work with independent authors

So whats up with the bookshops - at least the ones near me. My locals, as it were, who have been happily snatching my money these passed fifteen years or so. You would think a bookshop would be on the lookout for a point of difference from other bookshops. You'd think. You would also think a bookshop would support local authors in their area, you'd think.

In my experience you'd be wrong on both accounts. Even though my local bookshop stocked  The Tree Singer (3 whole books, wonderful of them really) and these three books sold within a few months - let's say 6 months (and that is being generous to the bookshop!) yuou would hope they might then get another three books in (to support the lopcal author and as a point of difference).


Or you would think when you went to the other local bookshop with a copies of both The Tree Singer and  Catalina they might be interested in ordering a ferw, you know, support their local author, a point of difference. No.

It seems many bookshops want only to stock the books they are told (by the big publishers) to stock. they do not want to have to think to deeply aboput things. Just nod, order and fall alseep in their shops wondering why sales are falling.

Here's a stab at  a few reasons why sales might be falling.

 All bookshops stock the same books so they all look the same, feel the same. There is no hurry to buy a book then because the next shop or the one after that will also have it. There are no points of difference.

A shop owner could say, "Look at this book, its  new, by a local author, and we stock it but you might not find it at other shops."

Now they might buy this book, they might enjoy this book and they might then become a loyal customer. Instead, they walk in see the same old books buy or not buy and forget all about that shop.

And if they didn't buy the book  the shop keeper could still sell (or not sell) the same books that everyone else stocks!

I can't, for the life of me, see what might be wrong with this approach and if the books don;t sell - return them! Bookshop owners will find that small independent publishers always ALWAYS have better return policies than the big publishers. They have too, to try and compete.

Here's another thing. Big publishers do not give a rat's fig for your small bookshop.  They do not care if you make sales. They run online, they have big stores, they are usually in competition, so here's the thing small, independent bookshop owners - be different! Support you local authors, heck support all independent authors and you'll find those authors (and their friends and relative, yes authors do have friends and relatives) will support your bookshop.

Plus I would have thought maybe, just maybe, finding new authors, encouraging new novels, new markets, new ways to engage buyers of books would be  a clever strategy for your bookshop.

Apparently not. Apparently, sitting on your stool, bored and listless and wondering where all the sales have gone is the way to go!So please bookshop owners, next time an author (especially a local author) comes in and asks for you to consider stocking their books, or the books of a small independent publisher, try to see it as an opportunity, not as a monumental task far too hard for your business.

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